As your child grows into a teen, he’s coping with a lot. School gets harder, friends change, and his own moods shift.

Life will be easier for him if home can be a comfort zone. Try these ideas to help all of you handle the ups and downs of the middle years.

Give him space
If your youngster is having a rough day, give him time to sort things out. Example: “Dad and I are going to watch a show in an hour, if you feel like joining us.” He’ll realize that you recognize and respect his need for time alone. Note: If he stays in his room, check on him later.

Stay fresh
When you and your child disagree, try to resolve the issue quickly. Then, move on. For instance, if you quarrel in the evening, don’t go to sleep mad at each other. And greet your youngster with a worm “hello” the next morning. Offering a friendly smile gives your middle grader—and you—a chance to begin over.

Be available
Does our child want to be left alone one minute and need you the next? Let him know that you’re available for advice anytime—and for rides and homework help when reasonable (you’re not busy or it’s worked out in advance). Knowing he can count on you will make him feel more secure.

Source: permission from © 2008 Resources for Educators, a division of Aspen Publishers, Inc. “Middle Years”